For as long as I can remember, deer hunting has been about as big of a sport as any other in Cherokee County. A lot of camouflage, bows, rifles, and shotguns can be seen in our area with the opening of the new season.
There was a time in my dad’s life when he was a huge fan of deer hunting.
He spent many weekends in the woods with his friends. He brought home several deer and even had quite a few mounted that were hung above the hearth of the fireplace.
He was not in the minority. He was clearly in the majority of the people he knew who did the same thing.
I remember as a young boy Dad letting me shoot a rifle or a shotgun behind the house we lived in in the Keithburg Community. I can only assume that it was his way to try and get me interested in the sport he loved so much.
Even today, many fathers and sons spend hours together deer hunting. So maybe that was his goal for us by letting me get familiar with firearms.
For those of you reading this, shooting was always done under very strict supervision.
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, the hunting thing never attracted me. I was far more interested in football, basketball, baseball and riding horses.
I could just never wrap my head around hunting. I mean, there was no score keeping.
There were really no winners or losers. Except of course if you count the deer that ended up on someone’s wall.
In addition to that, deer hunting required rising early in the morning. That is something I have never been a fan of.
Then it involved sitting in a tree or on the ground in cold weather and waiting patiently for the unsuspecting deer to come close enough to get a shot at it. No thanks.
We didn’t really know of ADD when I was growing up, but I think I may have had it. Because my patience was never enough for such a sport.
As I grew into my early 20s, many of my friends were hunters and many still are today. So I tried bow hunting one season.
I did this just to fit in mind you. I remember sitting in a tree during the late afternoon and hearing something come walking through the woods.
I slowly turned and it was a deer. I watched it carefully as it made its way in front of me. It was decision time.
So I made a decision. I watched the deer as it kept walking until it was out of sight.
There may be some who read this and say, “good for you.” But please don’t be too quick to judge me good or bad.
I didn’t let it walk by out of conscience. I let it walk by because I had no interest in shooting it. I had no interest in dragging it back to the truck.
I had no interest in doing any of the other things that must be done when one kills a deer. No. I let it go because it wasn’t my thing.
And additionally, I was basically too lazy to do the work that followed.
Nevertheless, in my late teens I can remember my dad coming home after one of his hunts when he had killed a deer.
I remember him clearly saying that he had killed his last deer. And after that day, I have no knowledge of him ever going hunting again.
I didn’t ask him on that day why he said what he did. I didn’t ask him because it was something I had no interest in.
It was important to him but not to me. How selfish of me. He spent hours watching me play and practice the sports I loved and I couldn’t take the time to ask one small question about why he was quitting a sport he loved.
And now I can’t ask. And I really want to know the answer. But I will never know because of my teenage selfishness.
I had no idea at the time how important that moment in my life was.
Did he want me to ask? I will never know. But I do know it was something he loved.
I only wish I could have loved it too.
Chris Collett is a lifelong resident of Cherokee County.